ページの画像
PDF
ePub

And enginery to batter that huge pile,
Dismiss'd a troop, and round the Tournelles led
The host beleaguering. There they pitch their tents,
And plant their engines for the morrow's war, 669
Then to their meal, and o'er the cheerful bowl
Recount the tale of danger; soon to rest
Betaking them, for now the night drew on.

JOAN OF ARC.

THE EIGHTH BOOK.

Now was the noon of night, and all was still,
Save where the sentinel paced on his rounds
Humming a broken song. Along the camp
High flames the frequent fire. The Frenchmen there,
On the bare earth extended, rest their limbs 5
Fatigued, their spears lay by them, and the shield
Pillow'd the helmed head: secure they slept,
And busy in their dreams they fought again
The fight of yesterday.

But not to Joan,
But not to her, most wretched, came thy aid, 10
Soother of sorrows, Sleep! no more her pulse,
Amid the battle's tumult throbbing fast,
Allow'd no pause for thought. With clasp'd hands now
And with fix'd eyes she sat, and in her mind
The spectres of the days departed rose,

15 A melancholy train! Upon the gale The raven's croak was heard; she started then, And passing through the camp with hasty step She sought the field of blood.

night was calm;

Nor ever clearer welkin canopied

20 Chaldea, while the watchful shepherd's eye Survey'd the host of heaven, and mark'd them rise Successive, and successively decay, Lost in the stream of light, as lesser springs Amid Euphrates' current. The high wall 25 Cast a deep shadow, and the Maiden's feet Stumbled o'er carcasses and broken arms; And sometimes did she hear the heavy groan Of one yet struggling in the pangs of death. She reach'd the spot where Theodore was slain 30 Before Fort London's gate; but vainly there Sought she the youth, on every clay-cold face Gazing with such a look as though she fear'd The thing she sought. And much she marvell’d then, For there the victim of his vengeful arm,

35 And close beside where he himself had fallen, Known by the buckler's blazon'd heraldry, Salisbury lay dead. So as the Virgin stood Looking around the plain, she mark'd a man Pass slowly on, as burthen'd. Him to aid 40 She sped, and soon with unencumber'd speed O'ertaking, thus bespake him: “Dost thou bear Some slaughter'd friend ? or is it one whose wounds Leave yet a hope of life? oh! if he lives, I will with earnest prayer petition heaven 45 To shed its healing on him!”

So she said, And as she spake stretch'd forth her careful hands To ease the burthen. “ Warrior !" he replied, “ Thanks for thy proffer'd aid: but he hath ceased To suffer, and my strength may well suffice

50

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

K

To bear him hence for burial. Fare thee well!
The night is far advanced; thou to the camp
Return: it fits not darkling thus to stray.”

“ Conrade!” the Maid exclaim'd, for well she knew His voice:...With that she fell upon his neck 55 And cried, “ my Theodore !... But wherefore thus Through the dead midnight dost thou bear his corse?”

“Peace, Maiden!"Conrade cried,"collect thy soul! He is but gone before thee to that world Whither thou soon must follow! Yestermorn, 60 Ere yet from Orleans to the war we went, He pour'd his tale of sorrow on mine ear. Lo, Conrade, where she moves! beloved Maid ! Devoted for the realm of France she goes, Abandoning for this the joys of life,

65 Yea.. life itself! Yet on my heart her words Vibrate. If she must perish in the war, I will not live to bear the thought that I Perhaps might have preserved her. I will go In secret to protect her. If I fall, .. And trust me I have little love of life, .. Do thou in secret bear me from the field, Lest haply I might meet her wandering eye A mangled corpse. She must not know

my

fate. Do this last act of friendship, and in the stream 75 Cast me, .. she then may think of Theodore Without a pang.” Maiden, I vow'd with him To take our place in battle by thy side, And make thy safety our peculiar care. And now I hoped thou hadst not seen him fall.” 80

70

Saying thus he laid the body on the ground.
With steady eye the wretched Maiden view'd
That life-left tenement: his batter'd arms
Were with the night-dews damp; his brown hair clung
Gore-clotted in the wound, and one loose lock 85
Play'do'er his cheek's black paleness. "Gallant youth!"
She cried, “ I would to God the hour were come
When I might meet thee in the bowers of bliss !
No, Theodore! the sport of winds and waves
Thy body shall not float adown the stream ! 90
Bear him with me to Orleans, there to rest
In holy ground, where priests may say their prayers
And hymn the requiem to his parted soul.
So will not Elinor in bitterness
Lament that no dear friend to her dead child 95
Paid the last office.”

From the earth they lift
Their mournful burthen, and along the plain
Pass with slow footsteps to the city gate.
The obedient centinel, knowing Conrade's voice,
Admits them at that hour, and on they go, 100
Till in the neighbouring abbey's porch arrived
They rest the lifeless load.

Loud rings the bell; The awaken'd porter turns the heavy door. To him the Virgin ! “ Father, from the slain On yonder field, a dear-loved friend we bring 105 Hither for Christian sepulture: chant ye The requiem to his soul: to-morrow eve I will return, and in the narrow house Will see him laid to rest." The father knew The Prophetess, and humbly bow'd assent. 110

« 前へ次へ »